Twin Cities Employees Face Security Challenge

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Metropolitan Airports Commission has introduced a program that encourages airport and airline employees at Minneapolis/St. Paul to challenge anyone they see roaming a secure airport area who is not displaying valid airport identification.

Approximately 9,000 workers are currently authorized to be on airport ramps, roadways and other restricted airport areas, the commission said.

"Spot, Challenge and Notify," or "Operation SCAN," as the program is called, is set up to reinforce for them that they need to properly display airport identification and to question the presence of people without it in restricted areas.

Decoys with no visible airport I.D. will be sent into airport, airline and other restricted airport areas.

"If the airport employee properly challenges the decoy and notifies the police that an unauthorized individual is on the airport, the employee will be given a $20 cash award and be eligible for $500 cash drawings to be held in May and December," Jim Welna, the commission's public safety director, said.

According to the commission, Operation SCAN grew out of a blue- ribbon consortium formed last summer, made up of representatives of airlines, airport tenants and others with security responsibilities at the airport.

The consortium was formed in the wake of security breaches by a Minneapolis Star-Tribune reporter who gained access without being challenged to an airline hangar, cargo facilities and a flight support general aviation hangar.

Some of the other recommendations and steps taken as a result of the consortium's work included the following, the commission said:

* A computerized interactive training system has been recommended to the airlines to provide preparation for "real-life scenarios" for workers at passenger security checkpoints.

* The commission has begun to upgrade and replace fencing at certain areas around the airport, including the shuttle bus dropoff area adjacent to the Lindbergh Terminal.

* The commission is about to begin upgrading signs identifying restricted areas and reminding employees of their responsibility to control access points and check I.D.s.

* The commission has purchased a new badge printer to replace security badges over the next two years with better ones.

* All jetway doors will be refitted with new security and safety hardware, including restricted-access keys.

* New signage and more authoritative public address announcements will be introduced this year to remind travelers not to leave their bags unattended.

* A plan will be developed for enhancing the closed circuit television system, including the addition of more cameras at screening check points, parking facilities and passenger dropoff areas.

* Pending Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the commission is prepared within the next two years to establish two K-9 explosive-detection teams.

* The commission will study the need to increase staffing at the police department and at the 911 communications center.

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